By Leslie Whitaker.
Co-author of The Good Girl s Guide to Negotiating
Dear Good Girls,
I thought your advice to a working mom to pull back as a parent was unrealistic and was not surprised that a letter writer took you to task. I am a stay at home mom with a graduate degree. I often joke that I am often the only mom at the park. Many nannies are great. Nonetheless, it does not change the bottom line that someone other than the parents is raising the kids. I think this is why there is a movement for one parent to stay home with the kids. My son is enrolled in a nursery school where many of the fathers stay home.
Thankfully, unlike the previous generation, I feel that when my son is a little older, I can return to work or start my own business.
I hope your plan, which I heartily endorse, works out well for you and your family. However any parent who decides to 'sequence in and out of work to raise a family should be aware that there are risks.
The expectation is that it s all going to be fine and I m in control, says Joanne Brundage, executive director of Mothers and More, an Illinois-based nonprofit group with 6,500 members ages 30 to mid-forties. It s a hard pill to swallow, but there are sometimes things outside your control that are not working in your favor.
The ease of getting back into the workforce can depend on your profession, says Brundage. Information technology can be particularly difficult, because of the rapid changes in the field, says Brundage. Teaching is usually easier. She says that many of their members go back to a totally different environment or switch fields, some after going back to school.
The women who have the easiest time with reentry, she says, are those who segue from their volunteer work into a fulltime job. They got jobs offered to them, probably because they were doing what they were very passionate about or were very good at. As always, doing what you love reaps untold rewards.
WHAT IF IT S BEEN 20 YEARS?
Dear Good Girls,
Please tackle the topic of older stay at home moms trying to reenter the job market. I do not have a college degree, am somewhat computer illiterate, willing to learn, dependable, enjoy people and need to work.
I worked for over 20 years as a dental office manager, assistant and receptionist, but I left to raise a family before computers were brought into play. Although I know I would be a valuable employee if trained properly, I feel frozen in time. Please advise any avenues we dinosaurs (I am 57 years old) could investigate. I also have other friends paralyzed with fear.
I have many friends in your situation, and I know it s not easy. Fast forward into the virtual age by taking a computer course, and then put Brundage s advice to work. Think about the things you like to do best and how they can add value to an organization. Once you have some sense of what you want to do, call your entire network of friends and former colleagues and ask them who you might talk to find the right fit. Personal contacts are always your easiest way back into the workforce, whether after 20 months or 20 years.
Peter MillerGot a problem at work? Leslie Whitaker, co-author of The Good Girl s Guide to Negotiating, would like to hear from you. Send Leslie an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 5063, River Forest, Ill. 60305